"It is truly a highlight moment in an athlete's career and I can still remember who I was standing next to and what I was wearing on the pool deck when I found out I had made the team for the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games."
Forty swimmers, including a host of Paralympians, were nominated by Swimming Canada for selection for the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games on Monday (23 March).
Chef de Mission Elisabeth Walker-Young announced the list at a poolside ceremony at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.
Following the 2015 Can Am Para-Swimming Championships held this past weekend (20-22 March), Swimming Canada, the sport’s governing body, nominated a total of 40 of the country’s best para-swimmers, 24 men and 16 women, to the team.
The roster includes 15 Paralympians, including 19-time Paralympic medallist Benoit Huot a veteran of the national team at age 31, along with Montreal's Aurelie Rivard, aged 18, a silver medallist at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Three-time Paralympian Adam Purdy, a double gold medallist at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games, was nominated after a seven-year hiatus.
"It was such an honour to announce the nominations for the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games swim team this morning," said Walker-Young, herself a four-time Paralympic swimmer. "It is truly a highlight moment in an athlete's career and I can still remember who I was standing next to and what I was wearing on the pool deck when I found out I had made the team for the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games. It was very special this morning to see the faces of the athletes as they heard their names. I know they will all be ready to swim fast and help our Canadian Parapan Am Team achieve our goal of finishing in the top three nations."
Swimming Canada para-swimming National Head Coach Craig McCord will serve as head coach. Para-swimming Performance Coach Vince Mikuska has also been appointed as a team coach. The remaining coaching staff will be selected next month.
"The team this summer is made up of 25 swimmers who will also compete at IPC Swimming World Championships in Glasgow and have the potential to compete for medals at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games," said McCord. "The TO2015 group will include those 25, along with 15 swimmers from our next generation group. We are working in a number of areas to develop our next generation of athletes identified as 2020 podium potential, and they will have the opportunity to compete at Parapan Ams on home soil."
The para-swimming team is the first of 14 Canadian teams to be nominated for selection to the Canadian Paralympic Committee for the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games, which take place from 7-15 August. Canada is expected to send approximately 220 athletes to the Games and has set a goal of finishing in the top three in the total medal count. Qualification is ongoing and the full team will be officially unveiled in July 2015.
With tickets for the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games tickets going on sale on Monday (23 March) at 1pm (ET), Toronto 2015 mascot Pachi was onsite with the swimmers to celebrate.
Parapan Am events are expected to draw big crowds, particularly the sports of athletics, swimming, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby. Tickets will be available online at the Toronto 2015 ticket website.
"Congratulations to all of the athletes who were named today to the Canadian Para-Swimming Team for the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games," said the Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport). "I commend you on all your training and the efforts you have devoted to make the team, and I wish you all the best as you enter your final preparations for the Games. Along with the coaches, family and supporters who have encouraged you, I join all Canadians in wishing you the best as you strive for the podium in Toronto. Your accomplishments during this Year of Sport in Canada will inspire future generations to reach for their goals, just as you are doing."
List of nominations
The 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships in Glasgow, Great Britain, will feature 650 of the world’s best swimmers from 50 countries compete between 13-19 July.
Tickets are on sale at the Glasgow2015.com website.